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socman56

seeking a better piano sound

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Hi, all:

 

I'm not sure how this question is going to fare since the only related post I could find went unanswered. But here goes.

 

I'm an amateur, straight-ahead jazz pianist who plays in various group settings. When possible, I play an acoustic piano. But in rehearsal studios or playing out, I need an electronic keyboard. About a year ago, I bought a used PX-350 in excellent condition. I love the action of the keyboard, but I can't stand the sound. For the record, I use only the grand piano setting, and I run the unit through a PA, a powered speaker or a guitar amp. But no matter how I adjust the EQ settings or the volume, the sound of the keyboard is always too bright and thin, and if I optimize the sound (speaking euphemistically) for soloing, it's terrible for comping, and vice versa. I can't find anything in the user's guide that speaks to this issue. So ....

 

Does anybody have any suggestions for improving the sound of this keyboard? Would a keyboard-specific amp make a dramatic difference? (Seems unlikely, but I'm clueless about this subject.) Alternatively, are there any effects devices that I could attach to the keyboard to modify the signal going to the amp or the PA to get a more authentic piano sound? I really like a lot about the keyboard -- the price, the portability, the feel. But if I can't improve the sound, I'm tempted to sell the Privia and upgrade to something better.

 

Thanks.

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Amplification can matter a lot. Have you tried headphones? Not for playing out, but to see if the sound you're looking for is closer in headphones. If it is, that means your amplification choices are less than desirable. Guitar amps don't have the full range a piano sound requires. Powered speakers and PAs can, but it depends on how they're set up. Lots of keyboard players I know use powered speakers like the QSC K series, JBL EON, and others as an "amp." But I also know a few guys who aren't happy with those and only like the sounds of some brands/models I don't remember. Maybe you're that particular. :) 

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I had a similar issue and my low cost solution was to connect a 5.1 Speaker system with a Sub.  This is Logitech X-540 system available for PCs and I connected the headphones output to it so I can have the "stereo" effect and I placed the small speakers behind the piano.  The Sub is below in the floor and the "bass" effect is set at 50%.

 

The result is a more full sound with more bass. I also connect a set of headphones to the Logitech system for a better audio quality in headphones.

 

I hope this helps.

 

 

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Are you using the line outs or the headphone jack to connect to your amp?  The manual says that line out sound quality will change depending on wether a headphone jack is plugged in.  Try it both ways to see if one is better for you.

 

Screenshot_20180116-103832.png

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Thanks, Joe Muscara, CAVA and BradMZ. I really appreciate your comments. I'm going to incorporate your suggestions at home this week, and on Sunday, I'll have access to a PA, a guitar amp and a bass amp -- no keyboard amp, alas -- at a friend's rehearsal space, so I'll try to find the time to play around with them to see what sort of improvements I can make. Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, I'll report back next week in the hopes of hearing some follow-up comments and/or suggestions. So thanks again. Now, if somebody could just help me with my playing ....

 

Preston

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I  have/play the PX350 and have played several others-for playing out in various good or not so good acoustic settings-I use a full compact PA system with both linear and parametric equalizer settings, plus 2 10-inch speaker enclosures with bass ducts and horns for high-end frequencies. I  can carry a pretty big room with about 200 watts into these stereo speakers although for solo gigs in a really big room i would use something even bigger than this. A piano has such a wide range of frequencies-it is very difficult getting a good mid-range sound out of any digital piano and still carry the extreme bass and treble octaves. Only a system with full eq will do it IMO. Every room is different and what sounds full in one venue may sound completely crap in another.  A good Peavey or Roland keyboard amp, with at least a 12' speaker will help, but for solo gigs, I need stereo to even get close to an acoustic piano. I used to go out with a custom-made huge single speaker with an 18" driver and 2 horns, but even that didn't sound good enough and decided I needed the stereo sound to get a good solo piano. and as Joe and Brad said, if you want to duplicate the sound out of headphones, it is going to take a little work.

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The opinion of many keyboard players I know is that most "keyboard amps" are crap. They're referring to the Peavey and Roland models.

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PMFJI --

 

There is an extreme solution to this problem:

 

. . . Use a "software piano" like Pianoteq, instead of the PX-350 sound generator.

 

It may be difficult to gig with a laptop computer, but Pianoteq sounds _way_ better than the PX-350.   It will run OK on a medium-performance laptop (Intel i5 or better).

 

You'll still need a good PA amp/speaker, rather than a "keyboard amp".  Some bass amps are "full-range"; people have reported good results with those.  If the unit has only woofers (no tweeters), it probably won't work well for piano.   I like my ElectroVoice ZXA1 -- nice, undistorted sound, less than 20 pounds.

 

.    Charles  

 

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Thanks again for all the advice. Just to follow up, fwiw, the half-assed "solution" I came up with was turning the treble, mid-range and bass dials to zero. The result was a very, very bland sound (to my ears), but not inoffensive. I guess it was sort of like taking powerful bi-polar meds to control manic-depressive mood swings. Not perfect, by any means, but livable, at least for the situations I'm playing in.

 

Preston

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